By Du Fan, Jiangsu Province
Recently, a church held a vote. Sister Li, the church leader, went against the principles of the church, and carried out the vote in her own way. When some other brothers and sisters voiced their opinions, not only did she not acknowledge them, but insisted on upholding her own way. The church was subsequently thrown into confusion by the leader’s actions. When I got the news, I totally lost my temper: How could someone be so arrogant? Carrying out the duties of a church leader without God in one’s heart, looking down upon the work arrangements, refuting and rejecting brothers’ and sisters’ suggestions—who else is there to blame for the church’s confusion but you! I immediately looked up the relevant principles and God’s words in preparation to commune with her and hold her against those words, so that she would be able to obey. Later that night, I went to meet Sister Li. During communion, I spoke to her with an accusatory tone, unable to suppress my anger. To my surprise, only about ten minutes into our meeting, the sister actually got up and rushed out with tears in her eyes. I was unrelenting, thinking: “She goes against the principles of the church and doesn’t allow anyone else to criticize her. How will she work in the future? What a dangerous situation! This just won’t do, I can’t let her just walk away from this issue. I must write her a letter.” Right then and there, I sat down and wrote her a letter in which I nominally acknowledged that my attitude in communion hadn’t been ideal and asked for her forgiveness. In the letter, I also brought principles to bear on her problems and gave her some communion. I thought that I had handled things quite well. I demonstrated that I was a leader who was able to gain understanding of myself and let go of my own ego, while at the same time using truth to resolve issues. Seeing how I handled things, she would definitely be convinced and gain some new understanding, I thought.
Once, when I was communing on this matter with my leader, the leader asked me how I had entered into the truth when resolving this issue. “How did I enter into the truth? Did I do a bad job? Were my actions inappropriate?” I felt slightly confused. The leader continued: “It’s not a question of how well you resolved the issue, but rather, in resolving the issue, did you use your status to convince others or did you use the truth to resolve the problem, exalt and testify to God, and let others gain an understanding of themselves and God? On the surface, it looks as though you fellowshiped about God’s word, but in actuality you were just trying to get her to succumb to you. Why did the sister end up leaving? It’s clear she left because she couldn’t accept your fellowship, she wasn’t convinced. If we’re only concerned with communicating the truth with others and neglect to pay attention to our own corruption, neglect to know ourselves, and work just for the sake of work, failing to learn our lessons and change our dispositions, are we not then like Paul? Paul gave guidance to others but, in the service of God, his old corrupt disposition became ever more set in his corrupt ways. In the end, he became a man who believed in God and yet resisted God, meeting his end in perdition.” The leader’s fellowship was like a call stirring me from a long slumber. Indeed, just as she said, when God arranged this situation for me, I didn’t seek the truth or search for God’s will, didn’t consider how to enter into the truth myself. Reflecting upon my own emotional response in the situation, all I did was think about solving other people’s problems. In this sense, was I considering God’s will to bring others before Him? Or was I rather using my status to force others to accept my point of view? I was also deeply corrupted by Satan, without truth, humanity or reason. I too was a victim. How was I any better than anyone else? However, I had no self-knowledge, I’d been hot-blooded and lectured people condescendingly, and what I’d revealed was nothing but an arrogant and conceited face of Satan! When the sister rushed off crying, I didn’t reflect on myself, instead resenting her and flying into a rage. Did my behavior not resemble the tyrannical actions of the great red dragon?
Thank God for His guidance! This experience enlightened me to the importance of entering into the reality of the truth. Only by entering into the reality of the truth can we receive God’s protection and not resist God. I read this in a sermon: “Many people become false leaders or antichrists because they do not really pursue the truth and, as a result, they don’t have slightest reality of the truth. As soon as they gain status and have some authority they begin to act wantonly, stand high above all, lord themselves over others and covet the blessing of status. In the end, such people are abhorred and rejected by God’s chosen, succumbing ultimately to utter failure. Could this possibly be a rare occurrence? Why can’t people come to their senses? What use is there in believing in God just to gain authority, wield power and covet the blessing of status? This is the behavior of selfish, lowly and evil people, it is the lowly desire of those who walk the path of the antichrist” (The Fellowship From the Above). Through this sermon, I realized that for those who do not seek to enter into the reality of the truth, once they have status, they will lord themselves over others, stand high above all and haughtily use their status to suppress, frame, and control others. They will ultimately become false leaders and antichrists. Although my behavior and expressions in this matter did not appear on the outside to be that serious, the corruption that was revealed within me and my God-defying nature and essence could not be denied—I was following the path of the antichrists. If I did not have the direction of God, I certainly would not have realized my folly and would still be living in self-righteousness. Continuing down that path, I would be exposed and phased out! When I thought how things could have panned out, it gave me the chills. What dangerous waters I was treading in, believing in God for so many years and still unable to know how to enter into the reality of the truth like Paul, who lived within his imaginings and conceptions, but continued to believe in and serve God according to his natural character and corrupted nature. If I don’t reverse my current state, I may end up being punished by God. In the future, I need to place more importance on personal entry and pursuit of the truth.
Not long after all this transpired, I received a letter from a sister which started by saying that she was having trouble grasping the truth and asked for my guidance. After reading the letter, I could not help but lose my temper, thinking: “You can’t cooperate well with those church leaders and your co-workers. Every time they give you suggestions you just make excuses, continuing to act arbitrarily. The gospel work you are responsible for has been unsuccessful and the churches are always reporting on your situation. Today you’re writing me to ask for guidance; are you really asking for my guidance? You think that everything that you’ve done has been appropriate and right and that it’s everyone else who is unable to practice the truth. How well do you really know yourself?” The more I thought, the angrier I became, I could feel the flames of fury raging in my heart: “Did you not ask me to give you guidance? I’ve been wanting to chat with you for a while now.” I put aside my current assignments and did my utmost to find the corresponding words of God to hold her against and convince her. As it turned out, the more I looked for appropriate passages, the less I found—I was puzzled as to where all the passages of which I had some understanding had disappeared to. Just as I was getting agitated, I suddenly felt reproached: “Are you really still looking for God’s words to solve someone else’s problems? Here this person is before you, how do you enter into the truth? Why are you always just trying to solve other people’s problems? What have you exposed in yourself?” God’s guidance calmed my restless heart and I started to think to myself: “Have I already forgotten what I experienced last time? I shouldn’t work just for the sake of work, but should resolve my own issues before I try to resolve other people’s problems.” At this point, I thought of this passage of God’s words: “You must first resolve all the difficulties within yourself by relying on God. Make an end to your degenerate dispositions and be able to really understand your own conditions and know how you should do things; keep fellowshiping anything you don’t understand. It is unacceptable for you not to know yourself. First heal your own sickness, and by means of eating and drinking My words more, contemplating My words, live life and do things according to My words; whether you are at home or in some other place, you should allow God to wield power within you. … Can the life of someone who cannot live by God’s words mature? No, it cannot. You must live by My words at all times. In life, My words must be your code of conduct. They will cause you to feel that doing things in a certain way is what God takes joy in, and doing things in another way is what God hates; slowly, you will come to walk the right track” (“Chapter 22” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “You must have an understanding of the people with whom you fellowship and fellowship about spiritual matters in life, only then can you supply life to others and make up for their inadequacies. You should not take a lecturing tone with them, which is fundamentally the wrong position to have. In fellowship you must have an understanding of spiritual matters. You must have wisdom and be able to understand what is in the hearts of other people. You must be a correct person if you are to serve others and you must fellowship with what you have” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Does God not hate that which I revealed of myself today? In what way were my actions today fulfilling my duties? No, I was clearly doing evil. Later, I read “The Principles of Helping Others With a Loving Heart,” and the first principle said: “You must distinguish different kinds of people according to God’s word. For those who truly believe in God and accept the truth, you must help them with a loving and honest heart” (Practice and Exercises for Principled Behavior). I also read these words of God, “What does God’s word require as the principle for treating others? Love what God loves, hate what God hates. That is, the people loved by God who truly pursue the truth and who do God’s will, are the people you should love. Those who don’t do God’s will, those who hate God, those who disobey God, and those who are despised by God, are people we should despise and reject. That’s what God’s word requires” (“Only by Knowing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself” in Records of Christ’s Talks). From these words, I understood God’s will: As long as any brother or sister loves the truth and practices the truth, no matter what corruptions they may reveal, you should treat them correctly and help them with a loving heart. I remembered that God loves people so much that He incarnated and came among them, and He spares no effort to save them. He hates the corrupt aspects of people, but tolerates their weakness, never addressing people in terms of their corruption. In order to purify and change us, God always encourages us with earnest admonition and tireless teaching, uses love to move us, and gives us a chance to realize the error of our ways and find a new way forward. God grants me His grace, raises me up and allows me to fulfill this duty as a leader in the hope that I will love what God loves, help and support my brothers and sisters with a loving heart when they meet trouble and treat them with an honest heart. I, however, went against this principle: When I had a little status and saw that others had exposed some corruption, I neglected to tolerate their weakness, but instead wielded God’s word like a weapon to suppress them and force them to agree with me. Is this not an act of hate? At this point, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed of my arrogance and ignorance. Afterward, I read a passage of God’s words: “‘Sharing and communing experiences’ means speaking of every thought in your heart, your state, your experiences and knowledge of God’s words, as well as the corrupt disposition within you. And after that, others discern these things, and accept the positive and recognize that which is negative. Only this is sharing, and only this is truly communing” (“The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Through reading the words of God, I learned how to commune with that sister in a way that would be beneficial for her. This time, when I took up the pen, I felt a surge of love welling up from within me. I felt a strong desire to lay bare my heart to that sister. This time, I didn’t compare God’s word against her, but rather discussed my insights into my own arrogant and conceited nature and inhumane behavior—I hadn’t treated brothers and sisters correctly, neglecting to display love and tolerance to them. When I actually let go of my ego, came to know and dissect myself, and was able to fellowship the true states I’d experienced with that sister, and entered into the truth with her, I felt extremely at ease and peaceful and felt that there was no distance and estrangement between us. I truly came to appreciate that God’s blessings came when I practiced the truth.
It was God’s guidance and enlightenment that enabled me, who could only preach letters and doctrines and not enter into the reality of the truth, to begin to improve, and they made me see the righteous disposition of God and gain some knowledge of God’s holy essence. Just as a passage in a sermon said, “Wherever there is corruption, there will be judgment, wherever there is evil, there will be chastisement” (The Fellowship From the Above). Now, I perceive more and more that God’s work of judgment and chastisement is just what we need, and they are also God’s greatest salvation and grace for man. Only through receiving this judgment and chastisement can we be wrested from the dark influence of Satan, cast off the darkness, seek the light and pursue the truth, enter into the truth, and practice the truth. I pray that God’s judgment and chastisement follow me wherever I go, so that I may soon attain purity and live as a true human being.